Why Are We So Poor? Yet We Are So Rich?

By Briggs Bomba


As leaders gather for the annual Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in the resort town of Victoria Falls this weekend, a distinctive new prominence and sense of urgency has emerged around the key issue facing the region – and the continent as a whole: the question of inclusive development and economic transformation.

At the same time, attention is moving from debates over aid effectiveness, multi-lateral and bi-lateral loans, and foreign direct investment as the key drivers of transformation, and towards development which is anchored on domestic resources.

For Africa, the quest for new approaches and transformative solutions is driven by the continued glaring contrast between, on one hand, the continent’s abundant endowment in natural resources – including precious minerals, oil, agricultural land, fisheries, wildlife and forestry – and, on the other, the paradoxical reality of the continent’s, particularly sub-Saharan Africa’s, position as the “poorest” in terms of virtually all the human development indicators – life expectancy, literacy, education, standard of living and quality of life, as measured on the Human Development Index.

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